Make Your Day Philosophy

 

MAKE YOUR DAY is based on a philosophy that promotes the development of an internal locus of control, which means that students learn that their choices influence their life. In learning situations, they learn to be active participants by choosing to meet expectations the best that they are able. In disciplinary situations, students understand that their actions result in fair, logical, and predictable consequences that are enforced in a manner that preserves their dignity. The basic tenets of this philosophy are built on human dignity and responsibility. When one internalizes the philosophy inherent in Make Your Day the structure and how to utilize it become obvious. There is no need for a “cookbook” that tries to cover all possible actions and reactions within the school environment because one’s understanding of the philosophy allows decisions to be made that are appropriate for each situation and each student.

 

Free will and choice are important components of Make Your Day that enhance the students’ abilities to develop an internal locus of control. However, understanding this concept can be the most difficult transition for school staff who would like to “help” students make “correct” decisions. Allowing students to make choices provides them with opportunities to learn through their successes and failures. Make Your Day affords students the opportunity to assess their academic and behavioral performance frequently so that there is time to learn from mistakes and make changes. The Make Your Day philosophy supports each student’s right to succeed or fail. Students who choose to take part in the learning environment put forth a distinctly higher level of effort than those students who feel they don’t have a choice as to whether they will participate or not. Those students who choose to “opt out” are given the opportunity to do so in a way that does not affect the learning of others; however, their message is not ignored. It is understood that students who choose not to participate are communicating a need for additional supports in order to be successful. The structure of Make Your Day allows this to occur in a way that does not negatively affect the classroom or school environment.

 

Commonly, a consequence is defined as the result of an action; whereas, a punishment is defined as a penalty or harsh treatment. In disciplinary situations, students perceive and understand the differences between consequences and punishments. Most students feel that consequences are based on their choices and punishments are the results of others’ choices. Although “fairness” is an ambiguous personal experience, research shows there is a consensus among students that a consistent environment, a high regard for privacy, and an understanding of individual needs result in a feeling of being treated fairly. Whether the instructional expectations are individual or group oriented, quiet, or highly interactive, an underlying consistent structure must exist that immediately addresses behaviors that interfere with the educational environment. When educators describe clear and explicit academic and behavioral expectations, along with following through consistently students know that they are being treated fairly. Removing “payoffs” such as overt emotionality, an audience, or attention for negative behaviors minimizes the drive many students have to misbehave. Following the steps of this program without variation will alleviate these “payoffs” for the disruptive student and provide a positive educational environment for all students. Make Your Day allows students to make decisions that result in logical, fair, reasonable, predictable, and (for the teacher) enforceable consequences, which immediately follow a behavior that interferes with the learning, safety or well-being of others. Additionally, a student’s own safety and well-being is protected with this process.

 

Another important construct of Make Your Day is that the staff expectations of student behavior and academics are explicitly stated and taught, along with the school staff modeling the desired behaviors, as appropriate. The opportunity to frequently assess their success in meeting the stated expectations helps students learn to monitor their efforts and adjust as necessary. Because the teacher models this process by participating, students learn that mistakes are part of learning and improving. Empowering students by allowing them to participate actively in the implementation of Make Your Day each year results in the students’ acceptance of the cooperatively established limits. When students have ownership of the parameters necessary for optimal learning, teachers can teach and students can learn.

 

If June of “Leave It To Beaver” taught us one great lesson, it was – always wear your pearls when moving furniture and never let them see you sweat. We are educators, not babysitters or police officers. Expect all of your students to learn and they will respond to your expectations.

 

Make Your Day is simply the understanding that every student has the right to learn in a physically and emotionally safe environment.